A key attribute of a financially stable organization is appropriate reserves. Strong reserves position an organization to weather significant economic downturns, manage revenue reduction as a result of State and Federal legislation, and address unexpected emergencies, such as natural disasters, catastrophic events caused by human activity, or excessive liabilities or legal judgments against the organization.
Reserve funds are designed to accumulate cash for future capital expenditures and other allowable purposes. The practice of planning ahead and systematically saving for capital acquisitions and other contingencies are considered prudent financial management. Saving for future capital needs can reduce or eliminate interest and other costs associated with debt issuances. Certain reserve funds can be utilized to help protect the budget against unpredictable risks.
Planning today and saving incrementally for expected future events can help mitigate the financial impact of major, nonrecurring, or unforeseen expenditures on the annual operating budget. Establishing and funding allowable reserve funds for a clear purpose can help smooth a sudden increase in the annual budget and negative impact in the real property tax levy.
The other important purpose of a reserve fund is to plan for contingencies, maintain good standing with rating agencies, generate more investment income, ensure cash availability, and create a better working relationship between the governing council and staff. The policy should also define acceptable uses for reserves and how the reserve should be managed.